TACOMA — Federal prosecutors have charged two men in the Christmas Day substation attacks in Pierce County that caused power outages and an alleged $3 million in damage.

Matthew Greenwood, 32, and Jeremy Crahan, 40, both of Puyallup, face federal charges of conspiracy to damage energy facilities. Greenwood faces an additional charge of possession of an unregistered firearm. Prosecutors say the men attacked two Tacoma Power and two Puget Sound Energy substations, according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, who commended the FBI for quickly identifying the suspects.

Both men made a brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Tuesday afternoon, where Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura ruled they should continue to be held at a federal detention center until a hearing scheduled for Jan. 10. No pleas were entered, and the two men, clad in green coveralls, did not speak.

Brown said in an interview that the investigation into the case is ongoing. So far, he said, law enforcement officials have not turned up evidence to indicate there was a political motive driving the attack.

“There’s a lot more work to be done. Not surprising, sometimes people’s criminal activity is not the most logical or rational,” Brown said. “And without getting too far ahead of myself, I think that is probably the case here.”

A criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday said the two men were identified as possible suspects through the analysis of cellphone records. Also, surveillance cameras at one of the substations captured images of one suspect and a pickup truck that appeared to be connected to the attack. A similar pickup had been connected to the defendants, and when law enforcement served a search warrant on the home of the suspects, they recovered “distinctive clothing” pictured in surveillance photos, prosecutors say.


Two surveillance photos included in the complaint show a man with a cloth covering part of his face and torso, holding something in his gloved right hand.

The complaint said the attacks caused about $3 million in damage, and Tacoma Power will need to use two mobile transformer units at each of its substations to provide power. Repairs could take up to 36 months to complete.

FBI Special Agent Mark Tucher, who investigated the attacks, is assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI’s Seattle Division, primarily investigating domestic terrorism.

The two Tacoma Power substations and one of the PSE substations were attacked early Christmas Day, before daylight. The last attack happened at about 7:25 p.m. and resulted in a power outage and fire. Initial reports indicated the suspects cut a chain-link fence to gain entry, then tampered with a switch as they tried to pry open equipment. This caused the substation to start arcing and sparking, according to the complaint.

On Dec. 31, when federal agents and local law enforcement executed warrants, they found Greenwood in a fifth-wheel trailer, and found a short-barreled rifle with what appeared to be a homemade silencer and a short-barreled shotgun.

The criminal complaint does reference a motive, as described by Greenwood.


Greenwood, in a statement to law enforcement after he was arrested and read Miranda rights, said he and Crahan had been planning to disrupt power to commit a burglary, according to the complaint. Greenwood said he entered all four substations using bolt cutters, while Crahan acted as a getaway driver, according to the complaint.

After the morning attacks, the two men went to a local business, drilled out a lock and stole from a cash register, according to Greenwood’s statement cited in the complaint.

Holly Fisher identified herself as Greenwood’s girlfriend in an interview Tuesday at the Puyallup property where they lived. She said she was inside the trailer when agents broke windows and threw flash-bang grenades during the arrest.

“He figured that a power outage would make it so they could get inside somewhere and take something of value,” Fisher said of Greenwood.

Fisher said through tears that she is eight months pregnant and that Greenwood was out of work and scared about not having money to support their child. The couple had been evicted from another home earlier in December. And, after watching television reports of other attacks, Greenwood and Crahan came up with the plan to cut power from substations as cover for the theft, she said.

“He isn’t a terrorist. He is just trying to support me and the baby I’m going to have in three weeks,” Fisher said. “He wasn’t thinking about the damage that could be done to other people. He was desperate.”


Tom Nobel, who leases a house near the trailer where the couple lives, said he watched law enforcement officials arrive on the property Saturday.

“All of a sudden, about a dozen cars come roaring around the corner. All of these agents get out. They’ve all got guns. They’re throwing flash-bangs,” Nobel said.

Nobel walked out a back door, and then an agent with a gun told him to get on the ground, he said.

The complaint does not indicate why four substations, including one at night, would be attacked for cover for a burglary.

Both men have past criminal records in Washington, according to court records, as well as prison records for Crahan.

Greenwood was convicted in 2018 of two counts of forgery and one count of taking a car without permission, Pierce County court records show. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to about four months in jail. Last year, he was charged in Kitsap County with car theft. He pleaded not guilty and the case is pending.


Crahan, in 2016, pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property after he admitted to helping burglarize a Gig Harbor home, Pierce County court records show. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to five counts of identity theft after admitting to possessing bank cards and other financial information of five people. Crahan served a total of 54 months in prison, according to Tobby Hatley, a spokesperson for the state Department of Corrections. In a 2014 DOC intake form, Crahan wrote that he had a severe alcohol and methamphetamine problem.

Crahan also had several previous convictions in Pierce County for theft and attempting to elude law enforcement, as well as a 2007 DUI conviction in Alaska, according to a criminal history filed as part of sentencing in his 2016 case.

Greenwood and Crahan face up to 20 years in prison for the charge of conspiracy to damage energy facilities.

During the Tuesday hearing, U.S. Attorney Steve Hobbs described the crime as an act of terrorism in arguing that Greenwood and Crahan should remain detained.

Brown said that this crime falls under the “statutory structure” of terrorism but that the term was not used to imply that prosecutors, at this point, had evidence of a political motive behind the substation attacks.

He said that the investigation also will continue to look for any connections to other substation attacks that occurred in the Pacific Northwest. Six were reported in Washington and Oregon in November.

“As of now, it stands alone as its own separate and distinct case,” Brown said. “We’ve obviously seen a number of similar targets attacked here and nationally as well. But there’s not indication, as of today, that those are all tied together. But there is more work for us to do.”

Seattle Times reporters Jim Brunner and Daisy Zavala Magaña contributed to this report.